The “F” Word

Posted November 7th, 2010

Why has the “F” word become so indispensable to—dare I make the pun—daily intercourse?

As a verb it exudes hostility. As an adverb it displaces countless positive and negative modifiers more explicit, poetic, and expressive.

The “F” word seems to be in constant use, in music, film and television, in conversation, and on Facebook. I am just so tired of it.

When I checked in on Facebook this afternoon, two entries caught my attention.

The first was an exchange between sisters, my nieces. One quoted lines from what I guess is a rap song: “hide ya kids, hide ya wife, hide ya kids, hide ya wife, hide ya kids, hide ya wife.”

The response included not only familiarity with the song and the hometown of the artist, but the statement, “I fuckin know antion doddson [sic].”

The other comment came from a grandson: “Goddamn it iPhone; when I text stop changing my “fucks” into “ducks.” You are making my strongly worded texts seem adorable and harmless.” (The entry spelled out the words in full.)

I opted to ignore the first exchange. It was, after all, between sisters, people a generation younger than I even though both have passed their thirtieth birthdays. I wanted to say something about the unpleasant sound and general needlessness of the adverb modifying “know.” I wanted to remind both of them that prospective employers and other people capable of affecting our lives might well have access to these casual remarks. But I didn’t.

I intruded, probably improperly, on the latter. I wrote, “Or is it just possible that f*** is no longer strong, interesting or of literary value? I think profanity is mostly the sign of a lack of imagination…” When I opened up all the responses, the one prior to mine read, “Apple’s intent here is to make society aware of how terribly often we utilize profanity unnecessarily…..PFFT, JK, WHATEVS. DUCK APPLE AND ITS CENSORSHIP.” Yes, indeed.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m just an old bag crammed full of pointless inhibitions about profanity and judgmental attitudes about language. But still, is there some compelling reason to speak in linked expletives?

I am not a partisan of euphemism, of polite circumlocution. I like nothing more than a barb dipped in verbal poison. I even have a certain tolerance for the inanity of argot, the exhausted simile. I just wish that people would let go of the words that rhyme with the aforementioned “duck.” I yearn for those days when younger generations refrained from profane language in the presence of their elders—and I most certainly pine for a time when adults modeled language that was both obscenity-free and reasonably grammatical.

Whatever happened to the skilled craft of description? Whatever happened to the fine art of insult?

I am all for “strongly worded texts” and the enthusiastic appreciation of a shared cultural touchstone.

Is it just not possible to articulate displeasure with force and memorably express extravagant delight without recourse to the “F” word?


BLOG CATEGORIES: General, Society at Large

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